How to grow Beschorneria yuccoides 

Often confused with the humble Yucca flaccida, Beschorneria yuccoides is a stemless, succulent plant native to the states of Hidalgo, Puebla and Veracruz in Mexico. Indeed the species name 'yuccoides' is derived from the Greek meaning 'Yucca-like', which is not surprising as both genera are from the same subfamily - Agavoideae. However the differences between the two end when they come into bloom.

Although usually associated with mild gardens on the East Coast of the United States Beschorneria yuccoides has proven itself to be tough enough to survive the warmer temperate climates of southern England and Ireland. That being said there are significant clumps at both Cambridge Botanic Gardens and Staunton Park, albeit with minimum winter protection.

How to grow Beschorneria yuccoides 
It is a clump-forming species with fleshy, grey-green, strap-shaped leaves up usually between 30-60 cm in length. Under favourable conditions you can expect it to reach an approximate height and spread of 1-1.5 metres. The impressive flower spike can reach a height of 1–1.8 metres although they are prone to bending over if not supported. The stems and the bract are a sumptuous red with nodding, yellow-green tubular-flowers borne from arching racemes.

It is a rarely seen species in cultivation however it is arguably one of the most exotic when grown successfully. Provide a position that receives as much sun as possible, in a soil that is particularly well-drained. Sandy loams are best, but you can add plenty of horticultural grit-sand and humus rich compost in less well-drained soils. Do not consider soils prone to waterlogging as the poor root conditions will result in minimal growth and certainly no blooms.

As with many of the more tender specimens a sheltered, south-facing wall is usually perfect. Before planting mix in a good quality, nitrogen rich fertilizer such as 'Blood, Fish and Bone' at the base of the hole.

There is a belief that larger specimens cope better outside in cooler regions than smaller ones, however it is usually only the smaller specimens which are available to purchase. Therefore for a better long-term effect, pot on small specimens into as large a container as possible and grow on for a year or two before planting out into their permanent position.

Image credit - Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0
In text image -  Hect onichus CC BY-SA 3.0

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